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South Beach's Nightlife Back In The Spotlight As Legal Battle Returns To Court

Image of traffic blockades in South Beach and a sign that reads "Road Closed Welcome to the Miami Beach Art Deco Cultural District"
Verónica Zaragovia
Miami Beach has signs up pointing out the Art Deco Cultural District, in the hopes people notice the city's desired changes to the nightlife.

Nightlife in South Beach is at the center of a legal battle that continues, after some Miami Beach commissioners, and Mayor Dan Gelber, temporarily changed the last call for alcohol sales from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. in May. The change affects businesses on Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue from Fifth to 15th Streets.

After that decision, the Clevelander Hotel sued the city — largely because of the impact to its business.

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The venue got a victory Monday when Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Beatrice Butchko sided with the Ocean Drive establishment, saying that the last call rollback wasn't done properly.

Instead of four out of seven commissioners voting on the ordinance to change the hours, Judge Butchko said five commissioners were needed because it's a zoning ordinance — a decision that didn’t bode well with Mayor Gelber.

"The city's going to appeal and do all that it can to vindicate its ability to control its liquor hours," said Gelber, in an online meeting with Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday. "I think that it’s fair to say that the city’s gonna be very vigorous in defense of its ordinance."

Because the city filed an appeal to the judge’s decision, the 2 a.m. limit on alcohol sales stands for now.

Jameer Brooks, right, from Philadelphia, Pa., says people come to Miami Beach to enjoy the nightlife and bars should stay open till 5 a.m.
Verónica Zaragovia
Jameer Brooks, right, from Philadelphia, Pa., says people come to Miami Beach to enjoy the nightlife and bars should stay open till 5 a.m.

On the same day, tourist Jameer Brooks from Philadelphia was on a bike just outside the Clevelander. He says bars around here should stay open till 5 a.m.

"That’s better because people really come out here to party," Brooks said. "It’s like a partying area so why not? They’re going to make more money from it and everybody’s having fun, enjoying themselves."

Under Gelber's leadership, the city wants to change that partying in South Beach. It put up banners and road signs around Ocean Drive that read “Welcome to the Art Deco Cultural District,” hoping people notice the changes while legally, the challenges continue in court.

Verónica Zaragovia was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida. She’s been a lifelong WLRN listener and is proud to cover health care, as well as Surfside and Miami Beach politics for the station. Contact Verónica at vzaragovia@wlrnnews.org
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